The state of New York is one step closer to allowing same-sex marriages after a bill supporting their legalization recently passed the state’s assembly.
According to CNN, the Marriage Equality Act passed the Assembly in a 80 to 63 vote June 15. The bill now moves to the Senate for further action.
Democrats and Republicans engaged in a heated debate on the issue, contesting points about religion, traditions and families.
“Marriage to me has a separate importance and it has to do with a man and a woman,” Republican Nancy Calhoun said during the debate, according to CNN. Democrats argued that same-sex marriage was a human right.
The state legislature’s lower chamber has passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage several times in past sessions, but it was rejected the first time it was voted on by the then Democrat-held Senate in 2009. The Senate is currently controlled by Republicans, but 31 of the 62 Senators have voiced their support of the bill.
If the bill passes, it would grant same-sex couples the right to marry and grant them many other related benefits and rights currently limited to traditional couples. If the bill clears the Senate, gay couples could marry as soon as 30 days later.
Currently, just five states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages, among them New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa.
Though New York currently outlaws same-sex marriage, in 2008 an appellate court ruling forced the state to honor same-sex marriages if they had been performed elsewhere.
According to Reuters, several celebrities lobbied lawmakers in Albany prior to the bill’s passage in the state’s assembly to legalize gay marriage. “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon and New York Rangers hockey player Sean Avery were among those calling for passage of the bill.
Republican Senator Roy J. McDonald voiced his support for the bill and vented his frustration on the issue to The New York Times.
“I’m tired of Republican, Democrat politics; I’m tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers,” he told the Times. “They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background, I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”